Jose Cisneros: An Artist’s Journey
September 18, 2021- February 5, 2022
Jose Cisneros was born in Durango, Mexico in 1910. In 1925 the family move to Juarez and Cisneros obtained a school passport to become a student at Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso. In 1927 Cisneros quit school to help support his family and in 1928 took a job at the White House department store where he designed the stores displays and he began drawing on poster board.
In 1937, Cisneros met artist Tom Lea as the former worked on a mural the County Courthouse. Through Lea, Cisneros met Maud Durlin Sullivan at the El Paso Public Library and was invited to exhibit his work for a week in 1938; the show was so popular it was extended to two weeks and then exhibited in Juarez. Lea also introduced Cisneros to Carl Hertzog, who then asked Cisneros to illustrate many books and other printing projects. During this time, Cisneros designed the coat of arms for the city of Juarez and the seal for Texas Western College; and then modified that seal when the school became the University of Texas at El Paso.
In 1948, Cisneros because a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1969 he was name the first recipient of the Paisano Fellowship, and in 1973 began to work as an artist full time. Over the years, Cisneros earned many awards, including the Americanism Award by the Daughters of the Revolution (1979), the Outstanding Western Book Award by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (1985), and induction into the El Paso County Historical Society’s Hall of Honor (1974).
In 1990, Cisneros was knighted by Pope John Paul II in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, in 1991 he was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain, and in 2002 President Bush awarded him the National Humanities Medal. Cisneros died of natural causes on November 14, 2009.
Courtesy of the El Paso Public Library, Jose Cisneros Collection.